tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC May 3, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT
that donald trump not only knew about that payment but reimbursed michael cohen over a series of months. >> it's not campaign money. no campaign finance violation. >> they funneled it through the law firm. >> funneled through law firm and the president repaid it. >> imagine if that came out on october 15, 2016. >> to make it go away -- >> cohen didn't ask. cohen made it go away. he did his job. prisoner release. rudy giuliani hinting that three americans held in north korea may be freed as early as today which would be news to the president's press secretary. >> we think that would be an incredible sign of good will and certainly a great statement for the north koreans to make ahead of the summit and discussions. i don't have an official announcement. twitter diplomacy. my wide ranging interview with
condoleeza rice. >> how would you manage political risk as secretary of state when you've got the president using twitter? >> twitter doesn't have enough characterize for some of the complex ideas you have to manage. good day. president trump is playing defense in a string of tweets trying to clarify those stunning comments by rudy giuliani about the $130,000 payment to stormy daniels days before the 2016 election. >> that money was not campaign money. sorry, i'm giving you fact now that you don't know. it's not campaign money. no campaign finance violation. >> they funneled it through the
law firm. >> funneled through law firm and the president repaid it. yeah. everybody was nervous about this from the beginning. i knew how much money donald trump put into that campaign. i said 130,000. when i heard cohen's retainer of 35,000 when he was doing no work. i say that's how he's repaying it. >> rudy giuliani followed that revelation by telling the new york times that the $35,000 monthly payment to reimburse michael cohen were out after a personal family account beginning quote sometime after the campaign was over. that's in contrast to comments made by many cohen in march who said the funds were taking from my home equity line and transferred to my llc account. rudy giuliani called this exchange between the president and reporters only a month ago into question. >> did you know about the
$130,000 payment to stormy daniels? then why did michael cohen make it? >> you have to ask michael cohen. he's my attorney. you'll have to ask michael. >> do you know where he got the money for the payment? >> i don't know. >> rudy giuliani tried to address that on fox news this morning. >> he didn't know the details of this until we knew the details which was a couple weeks ago. maybe not a couple, maybe ten days ago. remember when this came up, october 2016. i was with him day in and day out. i can't remember the details of what happened. >> joining me is white house correspondent kristen welker. what happened here? this feels like a car wreck. bring in rudy giuliani to take over the legal team.
he's hired emmet flood, a top rated white house lawyer in two administrations and a big time lawyer here. what you're seeing from rudy giuliani is a public relations campaign and it's backfiring. >> reporter: it's backfiring. it's hard to imagine he went out there and made those comments without the green light from the president. is this part of a coordinated strategy? we haven't gotten answers to that yet. you've heard a number of legal analysts make the point that perhaps rudy giuliani and the president which backed up what rudy giuliani said on fox news are trying to give michael cohen some cover so he doesn't flip on the president and reveal information that could potentially be damaging. again, the white house not responding to requests for comment about what's behind all of this and by all accounts they are scrambling to try to figure out what's going on here. sarah sanders was asked by a number of reporters earlier today after her own appearance on fox news, what's at the root
of this. she referred all questions back to rudy giuliani. the problem is not only does it contradict those initial statements that president trump made on air force one but rudy giuliani statement that this doesn't constitute a campaign finance violation is not necessarily true if you speak to people who are familiar with campaign finance law. there are a number of different contradictions, changing stories happening right now. president trump just wrapped up remarks in the rose garden during the national day of prayer. i shouted a question to him at tend the end of that event saying why are you changing your story. no response. it's also not clear he heard me. there was some distance between myself and the president. there are a lot of unanswered questions that the white house is going to need to answer. sarah sanders our next shot at trying to get some of those answers. >> you just referenced the series of tweets trying to give cover or trying to persuade
michael cohen that he should not be concerned about the president abandoning him. i'm not sure exactly what they are trying to do here. let's go to an unusual series of tweets that do not read as though they were written by the president the they are very lawyerly. having nothing to do with the kpanl through which he entered into a private contract of two parties known as a nondisclosure agreement. it will be used for damages for ms. clifford. despite already having signed a detail letter admitting there was no affair. this was a private agreement. money from the campaign or campaign contributions played no role in this transaction. the misspelling of role is the
only indication donald trump might have had something to do with these tweets. >> reporter: it's a very lawyerly statement. when the president has released tweets that seemed very lawyerly and there's only been one or two instances, it's been written by his attorney. was this tweet, series of tweets written by his attorney. that's another unanswered questioned. rudy giuliani is trying to thread the needle and so is the president saying this payment came from the normal payments that the president would have given then candidate trump to his person attorney as part of his retainer and he didn't necessarily know what the $130,000 payment was specifically going to. the shifting story makes it difficult to pin down what the
president knew. >> what jumps out at you is that expression that he used today to make it go away. that's hardly the kind of language you want to hear from the lawyer representing the president of the united states. >> reporter: that payment came several days before the election. you heard rudy giuliani say as much. imagine if this has come out in october how problematic that would have been. a lot of legal analysts pouncing on those specific remarks and saying that in and of it suggest this payment could have been made to make sure there wasn't damage to the trump campaign. >> well, perfectly teed up our next guest. thank you so much. michael avenatti represents stormy daniels. your reaction to, let's take it from from what we were talking
about. rudy giuliani's statement they were trying to make it go away and the timing was october 16th. can you manl what if this had come out around that time. does that make it, in your mind, a campaign contribution? >> well, our position has been the same and that's been it's clearly a campaign contribution. it was made to influence the election. any claim to the contrary is bogus. i'm very disappointed because i had a lot of respect for rudy giuliani, 15, 16 years ago. i thought that the way he handled 9/11 was admirable but he's well past his prime. he's no longer ready for primetime as the last 24 hours dictates. he's now resorted to calling me names and my client names in a desperate attempt to save this presidency. it is clear as day that the white house is panicking and they should be panicking because they have been caught in a
series of very serious lies about what happened here. these guys make the watergate burglars look competent, quite frankly. this is not going to end well for this president. i've been consistent in those comments the last few weeks. the revelations that have been made, damaging admissions by rudy giuliani over the last 24 hours, i don't think those can be overstated. there are serious criminal v violatio violations. money laundering, bank fraud, campaign finance violations. i want to focus on campaign finance violations. mr. rudy giuliani has a missed comprehension and does not know much about campaign finance law. he seems to believe that if campaign doe neinations were nod to pay 130,000 that ends the inquiry. that's the only way there could
be criminal liability relating to campaign finance law. as your correspondent mentioned that's not the law. that's inaccurate. i don't know if he's forgotten campaign finance law or if he ever knew it to begin with. he doesn't know what he's talking about. that goes back to what i said. rudy giuliani is not ready for primetime. >> today he was accusing you after being an ambulance chaser. if you want to respond to that. >> the only ambulance i've ever chased in my career is the one he's driving now. i think it's going to be doa. i'm not an ambulance chaser. me and my client are doing this for the right reasons. we have proven that. they are panicking and the only thing they've got is to resort to calling us names in an effort to discredit us and demean us. that's not going to cut it. we're not going away until the american people know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and they have all the
evidence before them. period. >> does it make a difference if this money was paid on a monthly retainer basis to michael cohen? >> it may be if invoices were submitted by michael cohen with the understand it was not for legal services but rather was a ruse for the reimbursement of 130,000, it could constitute fraud or money laundering. i was surprised to hear that admission by rudy giuliani last week. not last week but last night. it appears what they did was structured the repayment. it appears they structured the repayment in order to avoid detection or otherwise. it's not clear but it doesn't smell right. >> it is significant that rudy giuliani said today that the timing was important because it was october 15th going into the last debate? >> i think you're right. i think that was also a damaging
admission because previously what we heard from michael cohen and people that have claimed to be representing him during the last two to three months is this had nothing to do with the election. i think michael cohen's lawyers made that statement repeatedly. we know that is false. mr. rudy giuliani's claim the president only learned about this in the last ten days, that's not believable. we know the wall street journal reported on this in january or february. we filed our case the first week of march. you mean to tell me the president had his head in the sand and knew nothing about this until ten days ago. i believe the statements on air force one were on april 5th or april 6th. these guys are just making it up as they go along and it's going to come back and bite them. >> is there a legal significance into rudy giuliani acknowledged the president knew about the
payments and reimbursed those payments other than if being a potential political problem that he didn't tell the truth on air force one april 5th if he's described as having known about it and paid the money himself. >> there can be a significant legal consequence as a result of that if it can be shown that the president was aware of this payment around the time it occurred or shortly there after and allowed it not to be reported by michael cohen or engaged in a scheme or agreement with michael cohen where they would take other means to ensure it was not report and never saw the light of day. there could be serious consequenc consequences. >> what about the president's series of tweets today which we're describing as lawyerly because they don't seem to be in his voice. >> a couple things. it's clear that they were written by a lawyer although not a very smart lawyer. you can tell that just by
counting the commas in first tweet and the run on sentence. they are very problematic for the president because they have created additional legal liability for mr. trump. we may be amending defamation action we filed within the last week within the southern district of new york. this was not written by very smart lawyer by any stretch of the imagination and i might add they do not appear to have been written by a lawyer that has fla familiarity with the facts or had an opportunity to speak with the president about what really happened and we also know the president has a tendency to not be honest with his closest advisors if the lawyer is drafting tweets on the president, they better educate themselves in the future. >> does the fact the president through rudy giuliani has raised the whole issue of payments, whether they were stretched out
or structured, does this give you an opportunity for discovery to try to get at his tax returns? >> i don't know about the tax returns. that's a possibility but i will say this and that is the likelihood of us ultimately having a chance to depose the president went up exponentially and there's a much greater likelihood because of the ever changing stories and the admissions that have been made. we look forward to that day when someone has to raise their right hand and testify under oath as to what happened here as opposed to having one of their surrogates who aren't ready for primetime go out on fox and friends and every show on fox that will happen and spew nonsense. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. coming up, foreign policy chaos. russia and the president's attack ons ts on the cia. once there was an organism so small
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about the white house attacks on bob mueller. >> you worked with robert mueller. >> yes. >> after 9/11, he was at the fbi. should the president be calling it a witch hunt, going after him. should the president let him do his job? >> i think he is doing his job. i do know him. i think he will play it straight. there's been questions raised, legitimate questions raised about the composition of some of the things that might have gone on in fbi. they have to be answered. the investigation should go on. i hope it goes on and finishes relatively quickly because we need to know whether anything happened, what happened and get on with it. the one thing that i would say to americans in general is that our institutions are very powerful in the united states. the founding fathers had a brilliant institutional design. they didn't trust executive power so they created two houses
of congress. 535 people who think they should be president. they created governor who is have very strong views about their states. court systems up and down the high hierarchy. the institutions are working. >> one way to conclude it more quickly would be for the president to do an interview with mueller. should he? >> i can't tell the president what he needs to do. he needs to talk to his lawyers and make that decision. i will say this, i hope there is absolute transparency with the investigation and that it goes both ways. this is very high stakes political game and no one should play games with it. it's something that the american people deserve to have played in the most above board straightforward manner possible. >> should there be a report to the american people when it's over? >> i'm sure there will be. i don't know what detail they can go into because of legal
actions that may be under way but i assume there will be a report to the american people. >> should the president have had that meeting in the oval office with the russian ambassador, with foreign minister and disclosed classified information that involved one of our allie?. >> i've seen many cases in which presidents said things off the cuff in the oval office and you think why did you say that. i have no problem with having the russian ambassador and foreign minister of russia into the oval office. i have no problem with that. i don't like this russian regime. i think it's brutal to its own people. it's a glaet power. at least regional great power. you have to deal with russians. >> president still does not
criticize vladimmir putin. he congratulated him on his re-election contrary to the advice of his national security team. yes we have sanctioned russia but the rhetoric, all the signals are to be so welcoming to this adversary that tried to attack our election. >> i don't think vladmir putin feels very welcomed because the sanctions are piling up. i think it was kind of a mistake to put him on the telephone. if you and i were on the telephone with someone who just had an election, it's kind of hard not to say something about it. sometimes you want to be careful about the interactions that the president has. i think the policy toward russia is actually about what you would expect from almost any administration from these circumstances. i will say that somewhere along the way we're going to have to find way to deal with a regime that's decided we're the enemy because that's what vladmir putin has decided.
russia needs an enemy. it is us. we're going to have to find way to tuk about syria. the russians are on the ground in syria. any collusion of syria will have to have russia involved in it. we'll have to find way to talk about the situation with north korea saying to the russians if it can reach alaska, it can reach. i'm all for isolating putinism at this point. at some point you have to find way to continue to deal with the country. >> are you uncomfortable about the way the president attacks the intelligence agencies? i don't like to have the president of the united states attack. period. i think the presidency needs to be above all of that. to be fair the intelligence agencies made some mistakes in how they dealt early on with this president coming in. the conclusions that were reached about russian
motivations in being involved in our elections probably made it seem as if they were talking about the legitimacy of his election. i think mike pompeo showed that good leadership of the intelligence agencies can bridge that divide. intelligence agencies are about to be really key in telg us what's going on in telling us how the iranians respond if we do get out of this deal. that divide has got to be bridged. >> still ahead, i'll talk more to secretary rice about the iran deal, north korea and the state of the state department. cloud of confusion. how rudy giuliani's controversial comments would could have legal and political fallout to the president. stay with us. dear foremothers,
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violatio violations. mr. rudy giuliani's claims the president only learned about this in the last ten days that's not believable. we filed our case the first week of march. you mean to tell me the president had his head in the sand and knew nothing about this until ten days ago. that's not believable. >> michael avenatti with me moments ago with his take on the legal twists and turns sparked by rudy giuliani fox news interview wednesday night and today. we have a law professor at duke university. thanks so much for being with us. first of all, what's the legal significance, do you think? you're take aways from rudy giuliani's multiple interviews. >> i don't think it really changes anything legally at this point. what we need to know, the big $64,000 question in this in investigation can what came out of michael cohen's office in that search warrant in new york.
those materials are urntnder rew o to sift through the attorney-client impressiprivile problem. until we know what's many that evidence we have no idea if this story will hold up at all. there will be e-mails, financial records and the white house knows and mr. rudy giuliani know about some of those records but they can't know about all of them. he's quite the gambler. he put a lot of chips on the table at a point where you don't do that as lawyer because you want to make sure you're not going to do anything that will get contradicted by later evidence that will come out. we know that's happening. there's a black box in new york that contained a bunch of really significant evidence that nobody has seen. >> is this strategy just to create a lot of smoke? >> well, that might be the strategy but looks more like trying to put out a fire by turning fan on. he's just increased the slew of
questions about contradictions here between what rudy giuliani has said, what the president has said, what mr. cohen has said at various times. when the money changed hands, what money changed hands. it's all confusing. i guess within all of that there's some kind of a hope they will be able to establish this wasn't campaign contribution. that seems to be the biggest fear they have legally. i don't see how even what mr. rudy giuliani says resolves that issue. he's not saying that the president asks for the money to be used personally on his behalf at the time it was paid. he's saying later the president decides to make the guy whole by making payments much later back to him. if it was campaigncontribution, i don't see what difference it makes whether the president decides to move money around a year later. you can't undo the crime if it
had been done earlier. >> let me ask you about the attorney change. emett flood for ty cobb and now he's coming in known to be a hard liner on executive privilege and also someone who is expected to be more adversarial. >> yeah. he comes from a great criminal defense law firm in washington. they are just legendary. this is the law firm from oliver north days. he's a very good lawyer. i think the other thing you say here is there's a sense in which some of this may actually be in
the national interest. it just isn't a good thing for the american people to have a president of the united states under investigation who is not well represented. that is just not good for the public in term ts of making sure this happens in a right, orderly rule of law way. the bringing in flood suggests we may get some really significant constitutional lit ga litigation on if mueller were to decide to go forward with it. >> well, thank you so much for your perspective. it's great talking to you. i hope you'll come back. >> thanks. it was a pleasure. coming up, korea talks. why condoleezz rice thinks north korea may be ready to negotiate. w fast food drive thru lane. but what a powerful life lesson. and don't worry i have everything handled.
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now she's realized nothing else has worked so why not. >> i think they are coming to the table because the sanctions are biting including the expulsion of north korean workers from 20 countries. something secretary tillerson has arranged. that's hard currency that's no longer going in. i think they set the table pretty well. now you have to have the discipline to go to the negotiations, take your time, don't make any precipitous moves that might implicate japanese interests or american forces which are a stabilizing force in the region. it's fine that the table is set but this is going to really test the administration's ability to do something in a systematic and disciplined way. >> are expectations set too high. the president is speaking so positively about kim jong-un and what can come out of this in. >> i would keep expect tations down because the north koreans are well known coming to the
payab table when they are under pressure, making promises and walking away. i would keep expectations low and over deliver. this is a regime that murdered an american not too long ago with a regime that has death camps for its own people. it's not an on norabhonorable r. >> should the president leave the real negotiations to the professionals? >> i think everybody president is better off to set the table, make the big decisions. maybe come back in at an important time. there's going to be hundreds and of details that have to be negotiated. that's best left to people who are expert in these areas. >> i know you did not believe the iran nuclear deal was not a good deal. they shouldn't have signed it. now that it's in place and it is has accepted under a u.n.
resolution, our european partners in france, germany, uk all want it to be preserved. companies have to make decisions based on whether we are going to sanction iran. a t this stage should we be walking away from it in defiance of europe in. >> i would stayed in the deal for a lot of alliance management issues that you just raised. the president sent signals from the very beginning that he didn't like this deal and he was going to look for an exit. he said on day one i will in the election an thankfully on day one he didn't. there's been time. i hoping that president macron and chancellor merkel have ideas about how the deal should be improved. while it doesn't change the story about the current circumstances with the deal, it does say that the baseline on
which the deal was negotiated wasn't a truly baseline. >> what would you tell corporations and country about how to deal with the tariff policy and the protectionism now around the world but in this country? >> on that specific area i would say to companies and have been saying to them that the very ground of the international economic order that you've taken for granted may be started to shift. that was an international economic order that america built, not in zero sum gave. competitive, free trade and now it's under question. well now you have a president who really has protectionists instincts who talks about renationalization of production.
companies need to be aware this is bigger than just a set of any particular time. he's also dealing with a china that didn't live by rules of the wto into which it entering. there i think the administration is right to point out that some aspects of the chinese industrial policy are not in the spirit, let alone in the spirit even, not even the letter of how one operates in international economy. it's a complex world around economics and trade. companies shouldn't take anything for granted. >> are you uncomfortable on the immigration policy? >> i'm well known to be something who believes in comprehensive immigration reform. i have a lot of regrets about our time in office. i wish we had gotten immigration reform because we are a country of immigrants.
i think immigrants have added far more to this country than we sometimes recognize or acknowledge. this has been a country where we the people were an expansive concept. we made people better and they made under the circumstances better. i have no problem if somebody has been a criminal or criminal acts, by all means deport them. i don't like the way we're talking about immigrants these days. i think the great majority of immigrants came here for the right reasons and they kept us young and vital and i hope we continue to be a country where people want to come here to be a part of the american experiment. >> someone who studied and taught political science for so many years and worked in the white house so closely understands the process, is it viable to have the kind of turmoil, the chaos? >> in part it's a president who has never been in government. this is our first time electing whose first job in government was president of the united
states. they've had a lot of trouble settling down because the president was very clear that people wl too much experience, he really didn't want them. i think it will settle down. i think it is settling down. the agencies are well run. defense is well run. cia is well run. i think state is going to be just fine. we have a lot to be greatful for a and how they work. i would hope as we go into some of these really crucial negotiations, decisions and the like, if i could say one thing to secretary pompeo, it's get fully staffed up. you're not going be able to do it all on your own. i think he knows that. i think that was his message to the state department.
>> the 66th secretary of state with some very strong and pointed advice which he hopes he's already taking. coming up, for better or worse. the new explanation given for the stormy daniels pay out. you're chawatching andrea mitch reports on msnbc. ones that make it fast and easy to analyze and take action? how about some of the lowest options fees? are you raising your hand? good then it's time for power e*trade the platform, price and service that gives you the edge you need. alright one quick game of rock, paper, scissors. 1, 2, 3, go. e*trade. the original place to invest online.
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if we had to defend this as not being a campaign contribution, think we can do this. this was for personal reasons. this was the president had been hurt personally. and the first lady. by some of the false allegations. it wasn't for the campaign. it was to save their marriage -- not their marriage as much as their reputation. >> rudy giuliani also said on fox that it had to do with the october 15th time frame and going into the last debate with hillary clinton. because of the campaign. so which is it? okay. let me get the inside scoop. from kimberly atkins, chief washington reporter for the boston herald. i also want to play what he said
about the stormtroopers. the michael cohen. so let's play that and then we'll come out on the other side. >> i was talking about the $130,000 payment. which is a very regular thing for lawyers to do. the question there is, only possible violation there would be was it a campaign finance violation. usually result in a fine, by the way, not this big stormtroopers coming in and breaking down his apartment. >> of course comey has reacted on twitter today. he said about stormtroopers. i know the new york fbi. there are no stormtroopers. just a group of people deet voed to the rules of law and the truth. our country would be better off if leaders would be more like them. >> these are federal agents of the u.s. government executing a warrant. there is nothing untoward about
that at all. at least there's no evidence we have of that fact. but it's the messaging that he's doing. he's trying to say there's nothing to see here. there's no there there. this payment was about, you know, helping marital problems. >> it was also he said at the same time he also said within the same 24-hour period, it was about the october 15 time frame. which is it? >> clearly, that's what it is. just saying given these other reasons on television doesn't sway investigators into this. i know personally as a lawyer i never forwarded $130,000 for a client, you know, to be nice. this is problematic for the president and for michael cohen. but this is a political -- this is a political messaging stunt trying to make it seem there's nothing to see there. >> as an attorney, kimberly, never said the deal was to make it go away, that's a phrase -- >> it's not really a legal phrase so much as a fixer phrase. i think if you -- if we buy into the notion there is a method to
this madness which i'm not entirely sure it is, i would imagine two things are happening here. the first is attempt to discredit the broader mueller investigation which is why you have the words like stormtroopers. because you want to make it seem like they're overly aggressive, overplaying their hand and they're discredited. i think the micro attempt here is to take some of the heat off michael cohen. to say if there was a campaign finance violation, it's not on him, it was on us for failing to disclose, not on him for making a loan to the campaign. that way you're doing a wink-wink, nod, nod. saying don't cooperate, heat's getting taken off of you. maybe down the road we can talk about a pardon. >> and how about rudy giuliani's explanation last night of what the president said to liftester holt in that interview after the firing. we'll play it back to back. his description of it and the real tape. let's watch. >> he fired comey because comey
would not, among other things, say that he wasn't a target of the investigation. he's entitled to that. hillary clinton got that. and he couldn't get that. so he fired him and he said i'm free of this guy. >> regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey. knowing there was no good time to do it. when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. an excuse by the democrats. >> giuliani in the process is confirming what james comey said, that the president was trying to get him to say publicly that he wasn't under investigation and he wouldn't do it and now -- >> good catch. >> yes. now giuliani has confirmed that. >> we're living in a mad house with weird mayors and nothing ever makes sense anymore and why are we still doing this. >> if the future of, you know, the administration were at
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you. we start off with big breaking news. an nbc news exclusive investigation. we're learning that federal investigators wiretapped the phone lines of michael cohen, the president's longtime lawyer, weeks before last month's raid at cohelp's office, home and hotel room. we begin with nbc's tom winter, nbc's julia ainsley, msnbc legal analyst danny cevallos, michael avenatt avenatti. john was also robert mueller's chief of staff at the fbi. i want to welcome all of you. julia ainsley, tom winter, you two broke this story. as this is unfolding. tom, i want to start with you. walk us through what we know. >> okay, what we know is federal investigators pursuant to a lawful court order warrant were able to wiretap the phone lines of trump personal attorney michael cohen. that this wiretap occurred several weeks before the now public search warrant that w